Book 1, Physics, Lust and Greed Series
Humorous Science Fiction
Date Published: June 15, 2020
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
The year is 2044. Housed in a secret complex beneath the eastern Arizona desert, a consortium of governments and corporations have undertaken a program on the scale of the Manhattan Project to bludgeon the laws of physics into submission and make time travel a reality.
Fraught with insecurities, Marshall Grissom has spent his whole life trying not to call attention to himself, so he can’t imagine he would be remotely suited for the role of time travel pioneer. He’s even less enthusiastic about this corporate time-travel adventure when he learns that nudity is a job requirement. The task would better match the talents of candidates like the smart and beautiful Sheila Schuler, or the bristle-tough and rattlesnake-mean Marta Hamilton.
As the project evolves into a clash between science and corporate greed, conflicts escalate. Those contributing the funding are mostly interested in manipulating time travel for profit, and will stop at nothing, including murder, to achieve their goals.
The candidates moved from the auditorium to a room arrange¬ment that reminded Marta Hamilton of college class registration. Eight tables—each manned by several GRC staff members—stood along the far wall, letters of the alphabet posted above each table.
Marta lined up at the G-H-I sign and felt a towering presence behind her. She glanced to see the goofy man who’d sat next to her on the bus. He acknowledged her glance with an apologetic smile and a timid half wave. She returned her attention to the seated staff member, who explained options to the woman ahead of her.
“You will now be asked to sign one of two contracts. Both will confine you to this campus for the next five years. One contract places you in the candidate pool to become a traveler. The other assigns you to alternate duties at lesser pay. Both contracts include an agreement to disclose nothing of what you have heard or seen here and to authorize ongoing surveillance to ensure your compliance following your tour of duty.”
“I’m sorry,” the woman said with a quivering voice. “I didn’t know—”
“You were told your last chance to withdraw occurred before you boarded the bus.”
“But you didn’t say time travel. You just said—”
“Well, we couldn’t tell you about the time travel because that part is secret.”
“Do I have to decide this minute?”
“No, you have twenty-four hours to make up your mind.”
The woman bit her lip and absently twisted a lock of her hair. “Can I call my mother?”
“Like I said, it’s a secret.”
“But she wouldn’t tell anyone.”
“Uh, huh. If you feel you need counseling, go right over there . . .” He pointed to a table in the corner with a growing line.
“Um . . . what if I don’t sign either contract?”
The man smiled. “You’ll be subjected to five years of intense federal supervision.”
The dazed woman took the information packet and wobbled off toward the counselors. The man watched her go, and then turned his attention to his line.
“Marta Hamilton. Spare me the speech. I’m here to join the candidate pool.”
The man nodded and handed her a sheet from the pile to his left. With a flourish, she scribbled her name, stepped to the side and challenged Marshall with a glare.
“You will now be asked to sign one of two contracts . . .”
* * *
Marshall found himself in line behind the woman he’d sat next to on the bus.
Faced with both her glare and a decision that might be a matter of life and death, Marshall swallowed hard. He willed his eyes away from Marta’s, thought of the money, and said to the man, “Does it matter if I’m allergic to anchovies?”
“What? No. Of course, not.”
“Oh. Well . . . okay then.”
That first day reduced the official travelers’ candidate pool from one hundred and four to eighty-two. Marshall wasn’t overly concerned. The physicist lady had used the term some of you. That implied a competition. That meant some would go, and others would watch. He recalled the sandlot baseball and touch football games of his childhood.
No one ever picked Marshall for anything.
About the Author
Mike Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Their company produced the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort Myers, Florida. Mike loves fiction, cats, baseball and sailing. He splits his time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona, where he enjoys life as a writer and old-man baseball player.